The legend of tea
According to legend, it all began in 2737 BC in China. While Emperor Shen Nung boiled water under a tree to quench his thirst, a wind blew the branches and dropped a few leaves.
They mixed with the water and gave it a delicate colour and aroma. The emperor tasted it, savoured it and took it back. The tree was a wild tea plant: the tea was born.
In India, another legend tells that Prince Dharma, King Kosjuwo’s third son, was touched by grace and decided to leave his country to preach Buddha’s precepts in China. To make himself more worthy of such a mission, he vowed not to sleep during the nine years of his journey. Towards the end of the third year, however, he was drowsy and would succumb to sleep when, accidentally picking a few leaves from a wild tea plant, he bit them mechanically. The invigorating properties of tea immediately took effect: Dharma rejoiced and drew from these leaves the strength to stay awake for the last six years of his apostolate.
In Japan, the story would be a little different: after three years, Bodhi-Dharma, exhausted, eventually fell asleep during his devotions. When he woke up, furious at his weakness and overwhelmed by his fault, he cut his eyelids and threw them to the ground. A few years later, passing through the same place again, he noticed that they had given birth to a shrub that he had never seen before. He tasted the leaves and noticed that they had the property of keeping their eyes open. He talked about it around him and we got into the habit of growing tea in the places where it had passed.
Whatever the legend, it seems that the shrubs originated in China, probably from the region bordering Burma, North Vietnam and Yunnan, and that consumption of this drink first developed among the Chinese.
China is certainly the oldest exporter of tea in the world, but it’s not the only one. Today the tea tree grows in over 30 countries around the world, from South America to Japan through Africa.
Producer of some of the greater green and black teas: teas of Yunnan province, but also the Keemun, the Chingwoo or Szechwan. Do not forget china smoked teas (especially the famous Lapsang Souchong) and traditional flavoured teas (jasmine tea, rose, chrysanthemum, etc.).
Currently it’s the first in the world in terms of production. There, plantations date back to the nineteenth century and are mainly concentrated in the southwest trays (Nilgiri and Travancore) and in the north at the Himalayas gateway (Assam and Darjeeling large gardens).
(Sri Lanka) Ceylon teas account for nearly 50% of the black tea consumed in France.
It produces only green tea, the most famous is undoubtedly the Sencha tea (natural tea leaves), the Genmaïcha tea (blend of green tea, roasted rice and corn) and Matcha tea (powdered made from tea leaves dried and often used in the tea ceremony).
LIn Kenya, tea culture has taken off in the 60’s. Today, most of its production uses the “CTC method” (method by which the leaves are pressed, cut and rolled) especially used for teas with small leaves, ideal for tea bags.